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Episode 127

Unmute Yourself! The Power of Finding Your Voice in a Digital World

with Rachel Druckenmiller – Founder & CEO of UNMUTED

Rachel Druckenmiller is Founder & CEO of UNMUTED where she creates virtual experiences for leaders and remote teams that are energizing, engaging, and interactive. Rachel joined Mike Petrusky and his co-host Madison Dujka on a recent “Workplace Innovator Interactive Livestream” to discuss how you can “unmute yourself”, support your team, share ideas, and be your authentic self while living “the pandemic life”. This highlight episode offers valuable insights delivered during our weekly live broadcast happening every Wednesday at Noon ET.

Space-Right Safe Distancing Made Simple

Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachelbdruckenmiller/

Learn more about UNMUTED: https://unmutedlife.com/

Watch the full livestream recording: https://www.iofficecorp.com/webinar-download-workplace-innovator-interactive-livestream22

View all past livestream recordings: https://www.iofficecorp.com/resources?type=livestreams

Discover free resources and explore past interviews at: https://www.workplaceinnovator.com/

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Read the full transcript:

Rachel Druckenmiller (00:03):

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help does not make me a burden. Asking for help does not mean, that I can't cut it. It just means that I'm human, and that I'm acknowledging my limitations, and offering somebody else an opportunity to provide some support.

Mike (00:19):

This is the Workplace Innovator Podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders, about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE. The leading employee experience focused IWMS software, that delivers real-time data and mobile tools, to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

         Hey everyone. Welcome to episode 127, of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. It's Mike, and I've got a fantastic episode for you this week. It is a conversation taken from our live stream, interactive broadcasts. We do it every Wednesday at noon, eastern time. My co-host, Maddie and I, had a great time welcoming Rachel Druckenmiller. And, this hour together was so full of energy, and positivity, and music and practical tips. I want to give you as much of it as I can here; and then, I'm going to encourage you to go download the full video recording. I know you're going to love it. I can't wait to share it with you. So, here we go. All right. here we are. Hello, welcome to the show.

Maddie (00:19):

Hello, everybody.

Mike (01:34):

It's Showtime, everybody. Hi, Maddie.

Maddie (01:37):

Hey Mike, how's it going?

Mike (01:39):

Doing great. Two thumbs up. It's a happy Wednesday, because I'm here with my workplace innovator interactive peeps, my community; our community, Maddie, You are my co-host.

Maddie (01:49):

Yes.

Mike (01:50):

We do this together. It takes two to put on this show, and welcome you. Welcome you to the greatest show. I've got the Greatest Showman in my head.

Maddie (02:00):

I know, I know you do. It's been days everyone. We talked about this yesterday, also.

Mike (02:11):

This is the greatest show, how's that for my Hugh Jackman. Where's Zach Efron, when you need him?

Maddie (02:17):

Gosh, I wish he was here.

Mike (02:18):

Did you see the Greatest Showman? Are you a fan?

Maddie (02:22):

I've seen it and I have an unpopular opinion, so I won't share it.

Mike (02:26):

We need to have you unmute yourself, and share with us what you really think, as I welcome in our guests.

Maddie (02:30):

Exactly.

Mike (02:31):

And, there she is, Rachel Druckenmiller.

Rachel Druckenmiller (02:34):

Hi.

Mike (02:35):

How are you? Welcome to the show.

Rachel Druckenmiller (02:36):

Hi, Thanks so much. This is going to be a great chat, we're going to have today.

Mike (02:41):

I can't wait. I keep wanting to say, welcome to the greatest show, but that's a little bit arrogant, isn't it a little non-humble, little humble [crosstalk 00:02:50]... But Rachel, as we can all see on the slide here, you are founder and CEO of UNMUTED, living that hashtag unmuted life. So, tell us about it. What's that all about?

Rachel Druckenmiller (03:02):

Yeah. Well, it's funny because people are now using the word so often, because of being on video calls all the time, like unmute yourself. And, it's funny, because I've had it in journals for the past five years. Like, I'm going to call my company UNMUTED. And for me, it really comes from a place of, I think something that's probably familiar to a lot of us is that, we've had experiences of silencing ourselves, whether its creative expression, or how we feel, or what we think, or dreams that we have. And, we end up living a life that isn't as full, or as joyfully alive as it could be, because we silence ourselves, because we mute those things about ourselves.

         And, the reason I picked it for a company name is because, I did that for much of my life too; whether it was singing, or sharing feelings, or pain, or struggles I was going through. I did a really good job of putting on the mask of the happy face of, I got it all together, I'm fine; and, didn't really let anybody in. And so, unmuting myself was my way of stepping out and saying, "Here I am, this is me," we're going to make a greatest show, in reference.

Mike (03:59):

Okay. This is who I want to be, this is me, woa. All right, great tie in there, Rachel. Good job. Yeah, so the Greatest Showman, and I know you're a great singer, folks if you haven't done it already, go to LinkedIn right now, and follow Rachel Druckenmiller. She has an incredible voice, she ties it in with her motivation, her positive posts, her expertise around not just being unmuted, but also workplace wellness; and that's what this show is about, workplace and being an innovator, and especially during these challenging pandemic times. We have to in many ways, reinvent ourselves, and change our mindset. So, I'm looking forward to hearing more about that. What's your background in workplace and wellness? What's that piece of the puzzle?

Rachel Druckenmiller (04:42):

Yeah. So, I worked in corporate America, I start as an intern in 2003. And then, for full time, I was in there for about 13 years working for a benefits consultant. And so, I took the non-benefits consultant side of benefits consulting, and focused on, the intersection, workplace wellbeing, workplace culture, and leadership; and looking at what we could do to intersect those things to create places where people could thrive.

Mike (05:05):

Awesome. In fact, Rex Miller, one of our mutual friends made the connection. So, thank you Rex, if you're out there watching. Certainly, he's a familiar face for my audience members here, and the podcast listeners, because Rex has written books about facility management, corporate real estate and wellbeing in the workplace. Of course, The Healthy Workplace Nudge is one of his books. So, to get to know you a little bit better, and also to have a little fun with the audience, we like to do something called this or that, poll questions. And, it's something I stole from my friends here at the Capitol Chapter of IFMA, my local facility management community. So, I'm going to kick things off, this or that showbiz addition, because we have talked about singing and Rachel, you're a great singer. And, Carolyn McGary who sang the Greatest Showman song on my Asset Champion Podcast, episode 14 this week.

         Folks, if you haven't checked out the new Asset Champion Podcast, go to assetchampion.com and look for Carolyn McGary, singing a Greatest Showman tune. But with that said, you know my ammo here, you know I like karaoke, webinar karaoke, live stream karaoke. But, do you like good karaoke or bad karaoke? Because, I enjoy my bad podcast karaoke. I'm not a good singer. I think just being able to express yourself and have fun with it. It's kind of like American idol, Rachel. Remember William Hung on American Idol? Maddie was that before your time when William Hung...

Maddie (06:20):

I think it was before me.

Mike (06:22):

She bangs, she bangs. He became a super star.

Maddie (06:22):

Oh baby...

Mike (06:26):

Yeah. Oh baby, she moves, she moves. So, I mean that's bad karaoke, but it's good, fun entertainment, especially if someone's in on the joke, and has some fun with it. If you're not self-aware, I think it's cringe-worthy, but please I know how bad I am. So, let's see what the audience did. All right. Look at this, almost a divided equally. We've got good karaoke, which I would hope would dominate a little bit, but it's pretty evenly split. We enjoy some bad karaoke on this show. I'm not ashamed to say it. So with that as the setup, Rachel, this unmuted concept of finding our voice and becoming unmuted. But, what was your motivation with that? And then, how does it apply to this quarantine, and COVID-19 existence we all are living?

Rachel Druckenmiller (07:09):

When I think, being unmuted is really about looking at all areas of our lives. So, being unmuted in our health in terms of feeling vibrant and energized and alive, because a lot of us, whenever we have a symptoms, or something that bothers us in our body, we kind of have a tendency to mute that, which I also did. I had acid reflux for 10 years, and just took medicine every day, to get rid of that. Even though, it was really a sign that there was a fire in my belly that wanted to come out and I was like, "No, no," and I just kept silencing it, literally.

         So, part of it is around, listening to our bodies, which a lot of us don't necessarily do very well. And then, another part of it for me around being unmuted is, using our voice to speak up and express what we're thinking or feeling, which is to your point, something that a lot of people I think are afraid to do right now; because they're afraid, well gosh, if I speak up, if I show any insecurity, or any inadequacy or any fear, or any incompetence, I'm next on the chopping block.

         So, I'm just going to lay low, and not say anything, and suffer in silence. And, as a result of that, there's going to be a repercussion somewhere. Like either I'm going to be snippy with my family, or I'm going to be difficult to work with for my colleagues, or to clients, it's going to come out. It's like, when we silence something in ourselves, when we mute something in ourselves, it comes out somewhere, at some point in the future. And so, I see in particular right now, one of the things that's happening is that people are silencing themselves around what they need related to maybe support needs, whether its mental health or anxiety, that they're struggling with, mental health challenges. Because again, there's still so much stigma around that.

         And so, I think for a lot of people, if they walk away with nothing else from this conversation, is that hopefully is the nudge... Using Rex's language, but this is the nudge that gets them to say, you know what, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, asking for help does not make me a burden, asking for help does not mean, that I can't cut it, it just means that I'm human and that I'm acknowledging my limitations, and offering somebody else an opportunity to provide some support, and to use their strengths.

Mike (09:02):

Yeah, I love that. And that's something that, Maddie and I have been fortunate to have in our company at iOFFICE. We have these bi-weekly internal webinars, where our leadership team will get up and talk to the community of employees, wherever we are in the world, and coming together virtually. And I think that, being able to hear from those folks is certainly encouraging. But to hear that, these resources are available has been a great thing. Our HR team has been very good about communicating those types of things. But, the idea around the virtual existence, and the digital world that we live in... We've always talked about it, I've been doing podcasting for a number of years, and all around workplace, and real estate, and facility management. And, we've been moving towards the digital workplace for a long time, but this has thrown accelerant on a lot of those, what I would call paradoxes of the workplace. In fact, I used to give a lot of speeches. Back, remember Rachel, when we used to travel and go to conferences, [crosstalk 00:09:55] and talk to people in person.

Rachel Druckenmiller (09:55):

[inaudible 00:09:55] On stages? Yeah, what's that?

Mike (09:57):

What's that? Yeah. I can't wait till that happens again. But in the meantime, we are living this existence, and I want to give people some practical ideas about how to better deal with things. And, one of the paradoxes I often talked about, even before the pandemic was, this irony of the fact, that we're the most connected we've ever been, technology is amazing, we have Zoom, we have these tools. But, there's also this increase in isolation, and feelings of loneliness, and disconnect. So, this irony, or this paradox around that, how do we deal with that; as far as just some practical tips?

Rachel Druckenmiller (10:28):

So, one of the things that comes to mind for me is, as a leader, frankly, as a human being, to check in with someone and ask them a couple of simple questions. And one of those questions is, how can I best support you right now? So, if you work with a team of people, it might be opening up and having a conversation, if you're having a check-in, let's say. And by the way, there's been some research that came out of, some work that Josh Berson has done. He's replaced futurist, and they surveyed 350 HR professionals. And, what they found that employees want the most right now, is they want frequent communication, and they want regular check-ins with their managers. And, a lot of times there's, I think, the sense that managers, I don't want to overstep, we normally would just talk right about business, and we don't talk about their personal life.

         But the reality is, you can't avoid that now, okay. We're one and the same. You see where I live, you see where I work, you see my cat running around, my kids running around. Like, there is no separation, the line is gone.

Mike (11:18):

Exactly.

Rachel Druckenmiller (11:18):

And so, it's that fear that we have, that's our own stuff, we got to let that go. And so, you know what, People are in a totally new environment right now, so how could I create the conditions in which people feel like they're being sought after? And, I am reaching out to them, because they may not have the capacity in that moment to reach out to me, because they're so overwhelmed. And so, how can I reach out to somebody that I work with, and say, "Hey, how can I best support you right now?" "I know this is a totally new time, if there's anything I could be doing differently or better to be a greater support to you, I would love to do that." "Can we have a conversation?" And, even check in on a monthly basis or bi-weekly basis to check in, to see how that's going.

         So; hey what type of practical tactical support do you need? Do you have the technology that you need to do your job? Is there anything we could do to support you better in that area? What type of problem solving needs do they have? So, do they need to figure out how to do something virtually, that they previously did in person; and, they don't know how to do that, and they need to be walked through it. So, is there some type of a process that they need someone to coach them, or guide them through?

         Even if maybe someone's in sales, for instance, or something like that; okay, how do I do that virtually? Or, if you're used to having check-ins in person, and now you're doing them virtually, do you need to be coached on how to do that? So, maybe more of a problem solving need. And then, the third layer of need is around emotional needs. So, that might be recommending what your employee assistance program is, or your telehealth available, that's connected to behavioral health support; so that people have somebody that is certified, and qualified to guide them through, some of the things like so many people are dealing with; anxiety, loneliness, depression, grieving, right now. And so, what can we do as leaders in our organizations to make sure, that we're connecting people to the right resources, and opening up the conversations, to make sure that they know that if they need something, someone has their back.

Mike (13:06):

Yeah. I love that. And again, it reminds me of another Simon Sinek comment around, this rethinking of leadership. And, this maybe silver lining of being forced to kind of adapt to our virtual world, has made managers, either be revealed to be not so great, or have to work on their skills; it's okay, we all have to rethink and reimagine how we do our day-to-day interactions with our community, with our team. And, one thing that Simon said was, "The old school managerial approach would be, hey, I noticed your sales are down these last several months, get them up by next month, or there'll be consequences." That's kind of the default, old school way of doing it.

         And he says, "Why don't rethink that and say, I notice your sales have been down the last several months, what's going on with your..." "Is everything okay?" "Are you doing all right?" "Is there something outside this world of work that is affecting your performance here?" So, we all want the same outcome. We all want to be our best selves at work, and bring our best performances. But sometimes, like you say, we don't have the comfort level to share those types of things. But, if you're prompted, if you're asked, and given permission to unmute yourself, then I think only good things can come. Right?

Rachel Druckenmiller (14:14):

Yeah. And, I think what you were just talking about, Mike, is the distinction between, what we would often call command and control, which is the previous way of getting things done. I'm in charge, listen to me, command and control. And, I believe this is how I phrase and frame up, but I see the future of work, as connect and care. So leadership... I also really like alliteration. So, shifting from command and control to connect and care, what would it look like as leaders, for us to be more intentional about making that shift, because that's what employees are expecting. It's not going to work anymore. The old way is just not... It didn't really work, unless we were like in factories; and even then, people were acting out of fear, but it's sure as heck not going to work going forward.

Mike (14:53):

Yeah. We are in a new world and a new generation, and we all are expecting different things from our workplaces. But, I think we all are willing to adapt as well. If we see that empathetic leadership rising up. Any advice? Because, I think that's a possible area of concern for workplace leaders. With half their team at home, and half their team coming into the office, or some percentage in this hybrid approach. It could cause some of those concerns we had pre-pandemic, where you weren't quite really in with the team, if you weren't there physically. Is there anything that you could suggest to folks about trying to build that; try build that team when we all are in different places of comfort and feeling a vulnerability?

Rachel Druckenmiller (15:33):

So, I'm going to answer your question with a question. And that is, I believe that organizations have the intel, inside of their organizations. And, they don't necessarily ask the question. So, I would encourage everybody listening to this who works for organization, to have a conversation with your people and say, "Hey, design thinking type of question, right, how might we foster a sense of connection and community in a hybrid environment? "How might we make sure that, when we have these meetings; for instance, when we have our, whether it's an all-hands meeting or something like that, that we are in an environment where everyone feels, like they have an opportunity to be seen, and heard, for instance."

         But first and foremost, I would really say the people that are doing the work, are people that are day-to-day dealing with this, to ask them the question we so often rack our brains, what can we do? What can we do? And, we think we have to be the experts and figure all out. Versus, if you brought a group of your people together, like 15 to 20 of them and said, "Hey, how might we do this?" And, assuming anything is possible, that there are no limits, there are no barriers, there are no boundaries; what might we do to foster a sense of connection and community, given how the world is working right now? I guarantee you, if you open up the question that way, you create the opportunity to do what I talked through before, reflection, small group connection, large group report out, and tabulating those ideas. I guarantee, you're going to have ideas from within your own community, that are really great.

Mike (16:49):

That is awesome. Maddie isn't that perfect? That's exactly what we're going to do, after Rachel leaves us. I know you only have a few more minutes with us, Rachel. But, I didn't want you to miss out, on what we do at the end of each and every live stream, which is offer some escape from reality recommendations, the pina colada song. Do you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, Rachel?

Rachel Druckenmiller (17:09):

Sure.

Mike (17:10):

I hope you do. So, here's our music suggestions, starting with Madison's idea. What is this?

Maddie (17:16):

Thank You, by Dido. She's one of my favorite artists, and I've been trying to find a more upbeat song by her, to share with everyone. This is an older song. Most of you already know it, but there's no reason to not listen to it again.

Mike (17:27):

It's part of Eminem's [crosstalk 00:17:29], rap. He used this in his rap song, Stan. Remember this, Rachel? I don't know the lyrics, [crosstalk 00:00:17:37].

Rachel Druckenmiller (17:38):

[inaudible 00:17:38] up my window, and I can't see at all.

Mike (17:41):

Well, you all know that song, that's a great one. She's got that really kind of relaxing voice, kind of Enya-esque, which I enjoy; so that's great. [crosstalk 00:17:47] Well, here is mine. I'm on these show tunes recently, a few weeks ago, Rachel, I recommended everybody watch Hamilton on the Disney Channel Plus. Have you seen Hamilton?

Rachel Druckenmiller (17:57):

Broadway twice, and then video twice, yeah.

Mike (18:00):

Oh my goodness, so good. So good. So, now you can sing along with me. Right? Come on.

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:04):

Sure.

Mike (18:05):

Dah, dah, dah, din, din, din, da, da, da.

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:06):

Da, da, da, daa. This the rap part.

Mike (18:09):

Alexander Hamilton. How about this? I'm not throwing away my shot.

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:13):

Shot.

Mike (18:18):

No, I'm not throwing away my shot.

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:21):

Shot.

Mike (18:25):

And yo, I'm just a country, I'm young scrappy and hungry, and I'm not throwing away my shot. [crosstalk 00:18:28]

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:25):

Throwing away my shot. Ooh-oh-oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. Rise up [crosstalk 00:18:29].

Mike (18:30):

When are these colonies gonna rise up? When are these colonies gonna rise up?

Rachel Druckenmiller (18:30):

Rise up.

Mike (18:34):

All right; everybody, if you're not sold yet, Maddie, you haven't seen it yet, right?

Maddie (18:37):

I haven't. So, obviously I have to go do this, to go watch Hamilton.

Mike (18:42):

It's amazing. I hope you enjoy that folks. Thank you, Rachel. Your voice, obviously took us to a next level.

         There you go, folks; just a little bit of our time together with Rachel Druckenmiller of Unmuted. And as I mentioned, I know you're going to want to hear and see, our full hour together with Rachel, on this live stream. Check the show notes for this episode. The link is available to you, as well as ways, to connect with Rachel, and find more information about her organization, Unmuted. I, very much enjoyed our time together with Rachel, and I hope you did too. If you did, share this podcast with a friend, or colleague that might benefit from hearing it. And as always, please join us again, next week, as we continue to come together to encourage, and inspire each other, to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

         You've been listening to the workplace innovator podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial, as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information, about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace, by delivering digital technology, that enhances the employee experience. Visit iofficecorp.com.